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Update on Zach Anderson: Judge shows no mercy at all

By Lenore Skenazy . . . Even Zach Anderson’s probation officer wanted him off probation, but the judge ruled no. Zach’s one night of consensual teen sex means he still cannot live at home, drink alcohol, leave his county, or walk by a pre-school. He had hoped to get off probation on the 8th, but an early Christmas was not to be. Instead, the Elkhart, Indiana, 22-year-old will continue to live under probation’s strict rules until spring.

That means he cannot use the internet for anything other than schoolwork. He is forbidden to live with his family, as they reside near a dock, and children could — conceivably — gather there. He is not allowed to drink alcohol or make any purchase over $200 without pre-approval from his probation officer. He must be home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. every day. He is not allowed to “go or be” within 500 feet of a park, pre-school or municipal pool. He cannot leave his county without first obtaining his probation officer’s permission. Zach is also required to notify the officer of any dating relationship he pursues.

All for sleeping with a girl when he was 19 who said she was 17 (but turned out to be 14).

On Friday, Anderson appeared before Judge Angela Pasula in Niles, Michigan. His probation officer told the judge that Zach had done all that was required of him and even got good grades. For the officer, it was a slam dunk: Zach had served two years of probation already and now merited release. The officer had gone so far as to fill out the termination papers. (This is not to be confused with Zach’s probation officer in Indiana, who almost derailed Zach about a month ago. Details here.)

The judge said no.

Her reasoning, according to Zach’s father, Lester Anderson, was that she never allows anyone in Zach’s situation early release. Instead, Zach must earn his freedom.

Zach’s situation is this: When he was first tried for his crime — and the girl and her mother both pleaded with the judge to drop the case, arguing that there was no way Zach could have known the girl’s real age — Judge Dennis Wiley gave Zach 25 years on the sex offender registry, along with no internet privileges. But when his case hit the front page of the New York Times, he got a new sentencing. As the South Bend Tribune explains:

A revised sentence took his name off the sex offender registry and granted him a second chance under a Michigan law called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which offers leniency to first-time offenders who are young adults. If Zach successfully completes the terms of his probation, he will have no criminal record and it will be “as if it never happened,” said Les Anderson.

The Andersons were encouraged about a week ago, said Les, when they received official word from the state of Michigan that probation violations alleged in October by Zach’s Indiana probation officer were dropped.

Those alleged violations could have resulted in his being put back on the Michigan sex offender registry, Les said.

But they didn’t, because they were so absurd as to be unconstitutional. (Zach’s “crime” was that he had unintentionally been in the presence of 17-year-olds on two occasions and had not reported this to the authorities.)

Zach would have been done with his probation by now, no questions asked, had he not “erred” back in January of last year, earning him an extra six months. And what was his heinous infraction?

He’d gone online to look up a filter for his fish tank, and how to build a skateboard ramp. As he’d been prohibited from using the internet for anything other than school work, the probation officer tacked on the extra six months to the two years Zach was already serving.

This time, though, that same probation officer was willing to undo those extra six months.

But the judge decided against him and Zach.

So now Zach will be back in court in April to see if he can finally get off probation. Of course if, God forbid, he Googles a fish tank filter again, or walks by a municipal pool, all bets could be off.

This topic contains 14 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Saddles 1 month ago.

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  • #29791 Reply

    Saddles

    This is a good story that Sandy brings. My hats off to you. I guess the power of the press does work in certain situations.. Now to work on those cover-up sex offenses and those that play ordained ministers of Justice and don’t know the first thing about justice, mercy, forgiveness, or their growing up days. I don’t see why they don’t post on those adult sites and teen sites about hooking with underage people or being cautious of undercover agents disguising themselves as teenagers. To be politically correct.

  • #29801 Reply

    Tim Lawver

    We see from this case ONE of the reason s why our nation holds a 20,000,000,000,000 $ debt.

    That we spend government tax dollars chasing him around for doing what young men naturally do is pitiful. That is what a society gets for permitting the federal entities into the day to day lives of individuals. Some will make the counter argument that it be the proper jurisdiction of States to do so. Sure the young man seeks relief from his state probation in the case, but that case evolved from coercive federal agencies using Byrne grants as leverage to further monitoring of those with certain moral laws.

    The point is who decides what counts as “decent” and what counts as “deviant”? Let us hope its not the federal government deciding for individuals.

  • #29807 Reply

    david

    “Her reasoning, according to Zach’s father, Lester Anderson, was that she never allows anyone in Zach’s situation early release. Instead, Zach must earn his freedom.”

    That is not reasoning- it’s the opposite. Seems a basic tenet of behavior science- reward good behavior. We don’t do nearly enough of that in our corrections system.

    • #29817 Reply

      TS

      I take it the PO (or any PO) has no real say in her court on whether their client should be released early or not if this is her thinking and process in regards to RCs. A most stellar client will be damned no matter what.

      Another six months of this and you earn your freedom? I am seeing a reelection campaign point here since she was elected to her 2nd Circuit Court position, not appointed as she was in the 5th District Court. She was also always on the prosecution side of the law in her career, so you can maybe presume that taints her thinking also with RCs.

      Hang in their Zach, six months may seem long, but spring flowers will sprout still and you will be out of this mess soon enough.

    • #29820 Reply

      Maestro

      The judge actually contradicted herself and yet NO ONE called her on it. She said freedom must be “earned”, well, he complied with the ridiculous conditions of probation and had a probation officer say in his favor that he should be let off… ISNT THAT EARNING IT?

      My goodness! What EDUCATED defense attorney let that comment of hers just slip through his ears???

      • #29895 Reply

        TS

        @Maestro

        Your point is on. However, I would imagine the PO and the client did not hear much once she said “No” and would not until they read the transcripts of the hearing to catch what you mention. Additionally, she is making the point to him and others since he was given an additional six months for non-homework internet access, e.g. fish tank, etc, an early release from the additional six month given will not be granted even if the PO says you earned it.

        Why is the question on “Her reasoning, according to Zach’s father, Lester Anderson, was that she never allows anyone in Zach’s situation early release.”. What are her reasons behind her reasoning? She doesn’t have to explain herself, as many judges don’t, but it would have been helpful if she did because otherwise it just reeks of supremacy of her judgeship in an authoritarian manner in our society which is authoritarian enough. No one will learn or understand other than the “No” if reasoning is not shared for all, including those in this situation.

  • #29809 Reply

    Maestro

    What’s confusing to me here regarding his probation conditions is that the probation officer has full authority to NOT enforce certain conditions.
    At the top of the probation conditions that we sign (well, at least in Connecticut) it clearly states in bold black print:

    PROBATION OFFICER CHECK ALL THAT APPLY

    That means that the P.O. gets to decide which conditions from the enormous list a probationer must follow. But since probation officers are just paid bullies, they make sure to check EVERY BOX next to EVERY CONDITION just to be assholes.

    Many people here have disagreed with me regarding the necessity of probation and I still say it’s a waste of tax payer money. Period!
    The guy can’t walk by a damn school – BUT ONLY WHILE ON PROBATION.
    He can’t use the Internet – BUT ONLY WHILE ON PROBATION.

    I’d like you all to take a moment and let these probation conditions roll around in your brains and please ask yourself this question: “Part of the ‘punishment’ or not, what the hell differenxe does it make if the man simply WALKS by a school NOW or AFTER his probation is over?”

    And what the hell is this nonsense about not being able to make a purchase of more than $200 without the approval of a probation officer???!!!! WHAT!!!???
    What does his spending of his own hard earned money have to do with his rendezvous with a LYING teenager?

    And yet so many of you still want to challenge me about probation being a necessary part of our sentences.
    No judge is REQUIRED to place people on probation. It is NOT a requirement but it has become the “thing to do” just for the hell of it. To make themselves (the courts) feel good about themselves.

    • #29838 Reply

      Jonny everyman

      I don’t think anyone thinks probation is this awesome thing but it’s way better than hard time.

  • #29831 Reply

    Saddles

    Your comments on here intrigue me. Now a lot of men “think” with their you know what, and most of you on here are I would say mid 30’s and over. This boy was given too much of a punishment in the first place. A lot of people can do probation but the stigma of being on the registry is counter productive….. there is job security to look at, places to live, the cost of fine’s, and even living a normal everyday life. They don’t even factor that in any of this punishment.

    Did this kid really harm anyone or just his self-esteem? Hey I did 6 months PO when I was about his age for getting caught with a bag of weed. Today they would probably expel you from school if that happened. Sure I hope the boy gets a light brush with this ordeal. I would gladly take a small sentence for all this and after Probation that’s it, everything is wiped clean but we all press on. Is it age factor, I would say yes but than again the courts would say age has nothing to do with it. He actually sleep with a teenager…. Oh my gosh. I guess repentance is out of the question I guess learning a lesson is better than earning your freedom as maestro said in certain words.

    I guess they are looking for the next Al Capone and even over riding the probation officer sounds a bit out of wack.

  • #29867 Reply

    Rajendra

    hmmm but wasn’t the registry supposed to be not a punishment?!!!

  • #29889 Reply

    John d

    Elkhart indiana is where i got my charge. Same exact situation only difference is i was 18 and nobody at the new york times gave a crap back then. 4 years of prison two on paper. And over a decade on the registry. Ive met that po. She testified against me and we had never even met. Some of the most despicable people ive ever encountered. As upset as a parent might be that their underage teen is having sex how would they feel if their 18 year old went to prison instead of college because someone lied to them about their age. People need to wake up. Teenagers are going to have sex. Their are better ways to teach responsability than draconian prison sentences and life time banishment.

    • #29899 Reply

      Sam

      My case was identical other than the mom wanting the judge to sentence me to life even though the girl had been found and admitted to lying and doesn’t help that I wasn’t white with supportive parents.

      I just turned 19 she said she was 18 but turned out to be 14. Lawyer didn’t even try to get me HYTA status even though I qualified. He was besties with the judge and the prosecutor. Probably didn’t like that I tried to fire him twice because he wasn’t doing his job.

      My only saving evidence I had to have my friend print off for me and bring to the judge since my lawyer refused to.
      Said I couldn’t go to trial because the jury would be the all white baptist community and for sure I would end up in prison for at least 45 years.

      This was my first crime ever. Lawyer told me to take a plea and the registry wouldn’t effect anything. I believed him.

    • #29900 Reply

      Maestro

      People don’t want their teenagers doing what they once did as teenagers.
      I see the people that I was in high school with being these types of parents even tho, back in their days in high school, they were dating the older seniors and even older guys that were long out of high school.
      Hypocrites.

  • #29894 Reply

    Saddles

    I believe its time to say render to ceaser what is ceaser’s and to God what is Gods in all this matter. I would say juisprudent has run the gauntlet. You see I don’t like to think as thinking gets me in trouble and believe it or not we are all born into trouble.
    Now police can play by their rules, but going to far would make anyone upset but they don’t care. Its like killing someone or stigmatizing one or should we shoot first ask questions later or have a press report about it so someone can get some credit or should we write a dirty novel about all this. Well killing is killing, tourture is tourture, but who brings all this on,is it the boggyman as some say on here… is it basic instinct… Father know’s best… or designing women that want to be 100% right as in the garden of eden or is it the police over riding things a bit. Were is love thy neighbor in all this
    Now don’t get me wrong if we can problem solve and help thats good with these sex offender situations but now it seems man wants to control. Now a little punishment isn’t bad in certain situations but a lot of this needs to be stopped. Prison’s and a life long registry is bad enough. We are all equal even the police and government.
    If an article like this doesn’t open anyone’s eyes than we all might as well be anesthetized. Sure it makes me sick about this boy and girl with the boys’ hormones racing but thats not the whole problem. Even the girls mom and the girl herself didn’t want to see that kids life ruined in one minute by this. Kind of tells us about ourselves. One encounter and your a loser for the rest of your life. So Brenda you guys and all the other advocatres have a lot of challanges ahead of you and be sure to take that good book with you. I believe they still accept the good book in court these days.

  • #30421 Reply

    obvious answers

    Bet he will learn his lesson!! Wonder if he wishes he would have committed murder, or pushed drugs to children, or maybe stole a bunch of elderly peoples pensions with online scams so they would commit suicide like congress is fond of doing…or maybe sold children to the penal institute for under the table hush money by the prison unions like this judge that sentenced him is famous for… Any one of those “so obviously” lesser crimes and he would have had his life back and no registry… country is out of control.

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